My friend Chris Crowley died overnight in a hospital bed in Wales. He had been unconscious for a week or more. He had been given a terminal illness diagnosis -- cancerous tumours in his brain -- maybe six months ago.
We chatted over Facebook video a couple of times in the last six weeks. He told me he had worked out how to manage the dying process, that mostly he was not angry or depressed (although both emotions came alive from time to time). Chris wanted to remain with us to give enough time for his American son to reach Wales. They had 10 days of Chris's consciousness to share which is / was a considerable comfort to Chris, to Ben (I'm sure) and to us.
When Chris and I spoke we talked of our youthful days involved in left wing student politics in London (mostly happy times -- and not unhappy for the reasons sloppy thinkers will imagine). We spoke of being Communists together (the pro-democracy type) and of football and drinking cold, fizzy beer in the Rising Sun pub on Euston Road and of my accident and his retreat / escape / withdrawal to Wales (I never did entirely discover what that change was all about -- maybe he just liked the idea of living in Wales).
We spoke of our week with a larger glorious gang in Belfast in 2016 (the last time we were together in person) to cheer on our friend Trevor Gill as he performed Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
The Royal Shakespeare Company.
What a joy that week was. What a joy.
I wrote something for my friend on this intermittent, deeply egotistical blog about a month ago. He read it and he liked it. And that is good to know.
And now my friend, aged sixty-seven I think, is dead. We will not chat again.
Our mutual friend, Sioned-Mair Richards, heard a song and thought of Chris. And when I heard it (for the first time ever) I thought -- that's right. That's Chris. That's me. That's now.
We moved through our different lives united by unbreakable bonds of love and friendship that held us -- hold us -- fondly in each others hearts through forty messy years and more. It is for him we sing such songs. And for ourselves, of course.
For Chris. With love.